Henry James Vaux, Sr., a professor emeritus of forestry at the University of California, Berkeley, and former chairman of California's Board of Forestry, died on Dec. 22 in Berkeley after a brief illness. He was 88.
Vaux was best known for his contributions to the field of forest economics and forest policy. His research in forestry formed the basis for the development of modern forest practices and his leadership was pivotal to the evolution of forest policy in California.
“Henry James Vaux was one of the most innovative people in the forest policy arena,” said Richard B. Standiford, associate dean for forestry in UC Berkeley's College of Natural
Resources. “He was one of the giants in forestry in California.”
Vaux's views were frequently sought by legislators and policy makers and he played a significant role in the development of California’s forestry laws during the 1960s and 1970s.
These laws included a forest practices act, which created for the state a public trust responsibility to protect environmental attributes such as soil and water on forested lands. He also played a key role in a forest tax reform act which eliminated tax incentives to harvest timber prematurely, and a forest improvement act which created a fiscal partnership between the state and private forest landowners aimed at improving forest management on private land.
In 1976, then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Vaux chairman of the state Board of Forestry, which carried both policy and regulatory responsibilities. Vaux’s service as chairman was noteworthy for reinvigorating the board’s policy-making role.
Throughout his career Vaux received many professional honors. Among them were the Gifford Pinchot Medal awarded by the Society of American Foresters and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Forestry Association. He was also a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. UC Berkeley awarded him the Berkeley Citation upon his retirement, and the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources established the Henry Vaux Forestry Education Center at Blodgett Forest near Auburn. The Center was dedicated in his honor in 1999.
In the last 25 years of his life, Vaux spent much of his time establishing a family home in the Alexander Valley, a wine-growing region in Sonoma County. He was known to many of his friends and colleagues as Hank.
Vaux is survived by his daughter, Alice Vaux Hall of Portland, Oregon; his son, Henry Vaux, Jr. of El Cerrito; his daughter-in-law Prindle A. Vaux of El Cerrito, Calif.; and three grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27 at the Men's Faculty Club at UC Berkeley. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Henry Vaux Distinguished Professorship in Forest Policy, c/o the College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-3100.